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Taking risks and growing fast - Interview with Tomas Fogel, Team Manager

About Tomas Fogel, Digital Workforce Team Manager (Sweden)

Tomas started at Digital Workforce in July 2016 as a Solutions Consultant. Jokingly he talks about being the lucky number 13, as the company’s 13th hire. 

Tomas was initially looking for a summer job but soon realized a more long-term opportunity opening in front of him. He decided to continue working part-time next to his studies, and the part-time job quickly became a full-time one. 

At this time, Digital Workforce was in a phase where everything was still being built up. Business was concentrated in Finland, and the company had just hired its first Country Manager, Kenneth, who was working alone in Sweden. During the second half of 2016, however, the customer pool grew explosively, and recruitment started to pick up. Tomas had to learn quickly and be independent as the company’s senior resources were often tied up, but he came through the steep learning curve with flying colors! 

In January 2017 there were some structural changes in the organization, and industry teams were introduced in Finland. During this time, Tomas’s responsibilities grew naturally, and he took over a more senior role. He was also assigned for a project in Norway and helped out in Swedish projects. 

Digital Workforce had no consultants in Norway in early 2017, so Tomas was asked to help with Norwegian projects that demanded Swedish language skills. As the work in Norway grew, Tomas started traveling more frequently. Soon, a new customer was signed, and Tomas’s help was required for a more extended period. He traveled to Tromsö and stayed initially for half the summer in 2017. During this time, Digital Workforce set up an office in Norway, and Tomas was asked if he wanted to move to Oslo to join the new team. He grabbed the opportunity! From Oslo Tomas’s journey has continued to Stockholm, Sweden, where he is currently working as a Team Manager. 

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Tomas's thoughts about his development at Digital Workforce: 

Why do you think you were sent to carry out international assignments, and what made it possible for you to grow so fast? 

“When moving to Norway my role naturally developed into a Lead Developer role in a small team. But I also think my openness towards new things and challenges was helpful in my career development. If I find something interesting, I don’t say no to it. I also take responsibility for things I start quite easily; maybe this has been visible to others and helped build trust in my capabilities. I think the keys factors on my journey have been being open to new challenges and taking responsibility. I also try to look at things critically and ask myself the question ‘how should I do this better?’. 

“After a while in Norway, I found out we were looking for a Team Manager in Sweden, and I was proposed for the role. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move back to Finland yet anyway, so I decided to accept. I saw it as a great challenge and a possibility to join a new great team. I also recognized that the market maturity and growth phase in Sweden was similar to that of Finland a year earlier, and I had the experience from it. I think this was one of the reasons I was asked to take the role in the first place.” 

What do you expect from your future career development? 

“I could see myself in a more Consultant -type role again. I like to start up new things and see a lot of options in Digital Workforce to do this. Our company can offer a lot of development opportunities, but I also feel I still have a lot to prove in my current role as a Team Manager and I want to develop in this role first.” 

What have been your most significant learning curves? 

“The people management part of my current role is completely new to me and something I still need to develop in. There is a lot of things to keep track of, and you have to take responsibility and not be afraid of being in charge of things.” 

What have been your biggest challenges? 

“Throughout my whole journey I have seen a few big challenges: One challenge has been to understand how little I know after all. When I start to think I have achieved my best or know everything I’m always wrong! Other challenges have been more practical; it can be stressful to adapt to new countries and environments. You have to figure out a lot on your own. In my current role as a Team Manager, a big challenge has been learning to delegate and include others. I also want to make sure that my team gets the best possibilities on their development paths.” 

What would you say to others searching for new development opportunities? 

“I think being open-minded and trying not to think too much, but just going ahead and doing new things goes a long way. You have to take a lot of responsibility for your development, but if you are open, there are endless opportunities in our company. Just saying ‘yes’ works surprisingly well.” 

“I have also learned many things ‘the hard way’, but it has been necessary. As a Team Manager I can share my experience and knowledge, but also encourage my employees to take responsibility and not to fear failure. I see a lot of potential in our company. To make the most out of the potential, we need to know our employees, their strengths and desires for development and help steer them in the right direction.” 

“I would also encourage everyone to talk with colleagues, also beyond country borders! I think this is a great way to learn more and find new development opportunities.”

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